Today at Berkeley Lab

Archives for March 2011

For DNA Repair Machine, it’s all About Flexibility

In a discovery that could lead to new ways to fight cancer and other diseases such as cystic fibrosis, scientists from Berkeley Lab and the Scripps Research Institute determined that a cell’s speedy ability to repair damaged DNA relies on the remarkable flexibility of a molecular motor. Using the Advanced Light Source, the researchers determined the precise location where two components of a DNA repair machine called MRN attach to one another. To their surprise, they also found that one of these pieces, a molecular motor called Rad50, is as flexible as a snake before DNA repair begins, and then clamps shut like a pair of pliers once it binds with energy-giving ATP and initiates repair. More>

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DOE’s Office of Science Launches Revamped Website

The Department of Energy’s Office of Science has recently updated it website, which offers easy links to laboratories, user facilities, programs, and news. It also includes a “Discoveries and Innovation” page, which features research highlights from various labs. It currently includes pieces on the Joint BioEnergy Institute’s efforts to use microbes to produce fuels from biomass and the development of glass stronger than steel by Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division.

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Argonne Hosts MeV Summer School for Early-Career Nuclear Engineers

Argonne Lab will host a 10-day Modeling, Experimentation and Validation (MeV) Summer School to provide early-career nuclear engineers with advanced studies in integrated modeling, experimentation and validation to prepare them for some of the key challenges and demands facing the nuclear energy renaissance. The school is scheduled to run July 19-28. Students will receive graduate credit upon successful completion of each course. Tuition, room and board is $3,000. More>

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Online Manual Offers Earthquake Safety Tips

How safe is your home in the event of a major earthquake? Is it true that you should stand in a doorway during an earthquake? What should you do if you are outdoors? Find the answers to these and other questions in “Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country,” an online handbook produced by the USGS. The publication also lists “Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety,” which include the creation of disaster kits, creating a preparedness plan, and identifying and fixing potential hazards in your home. Employees are also encouraged to sign up for the EHS 116 First Aid Safety class, scheduled for April 5 and 19, and May 3 and 19.

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April 15 Deadline for Filing 2010 Health, DepCare FSA Claims

Employees enrolled in UC’s Flexible Spending Accounts (Health and/or Dependent Care) in 2010 have until April 15 to submit their reimbursement claim forms for eligible expenses incurred from January 1, 2010 through March 15, 2011. This includes any receipts or evidence of benefits statements that might be required to validate purchases made using your CONEXIS benefit card. Login to your account at CONEXIS and select “view my prior plans” to review 2010 account activity. Or you can call the CONEXIS at 1-800-482-4120. Internal Revenue Service rules require you to forfeit any balance remaining after the filing deadline of April 15.

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Traffic Interruption on McMillan Road Friday Through Sunday

Starting Friday (April 1) and continuing through Sunday (April 3), Goebel Construction Co. will be saw cutting the asphalt and potholing to locate utilities in numerous locations along McMillan Rd. The work will take place just west of Building 75B, in front of the Motor Pool area, and left on S Road towards the Grizzly Substation. This will result in one-lane, two-way traffic, controlled by flaggers. Use caution while navigating through this area.

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Superlensing the Infrared with Perovskites

Ramamoorthy Ramesh of the Materials Sciences Division led an experimental demonstration of the first superlens based on perovskite oxides. The new superlens is ideal for capturing light in the mid-infrared range, opening the door to highly sensitive biomedical detection and imaging. It may also be possible to turn the superlensing effect on/off, opening the door to highly dense data writing and storage. Other Berkeley Lab researchers on this project included Susanne Kehr, Yongmin Liu, and Xiang Zhang. More>

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Lab Scientist Helps Develop Breast Cancer Educational Tools

Paul Yaswen of the Life Sciences Division and former Lab scientist Mary Helen Barcellos-Hoff helped develop the “Breast Biologues,” a “biology dialogue about breast cancer and the environment.” Sponsored by the Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program, this educational effort uses a video and comic book to explain how a normal breast develops and how exposures to cancer-causing chemicals can influence breast cancer risk. More>

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EH&S Hosts Safety Video Contest; First Place Gets $500 Spot Award

Here’s your chance to showcase your creativity and win a Safety Spot Award. The Environment, Health and Safety Division is hosting a contest for the most creative short video that addresses safety, health, or environmental issues relevant to Berkeley Lab, either in the workplace or at home. The contest is open to individuals or teams. The videos will be judged by the EH&S Division Communications Committee. All videos must be submitted by May 9. The first-place winner gets $500, with $250 for second and $100 for third. Go here for contest rules and information.

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Postdocs Invited to Attend Focus Group This Friday

Postdocs play a critical role at Berkeley Lab, conducting some of our most cutting-edge research and providing the latest insights on the scientific process. To help improve communication between the Lab and its postdocs, a 60-minute focus group is being held on Friday (April 1) from 3 to 4 p.m. The meeting, hosted by the Public Affairs Office, will explore ways to raise awareness of posdoc research, develop resources that enhance their work experience at the Lab, create channels to for postdocs to voice their ideas, and participate in Public Affairs activities. Space is limited. Send e-mail here if interested in attending.

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